Easy Cucumber Salad

I really tried to think of a cute name for this salad, but I failed.

This salad is extremely simple, very pleasing to the eye, and healthy! I would take this to a BBQ instead of macaroni salad any day. Potato salad would be a different story because I make bomb potato salad, and that will be for another day my friends.

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What you will need:
4 Cucumbers
1 Red Onion
Fresh Dill
2 Lemons
1 cup Greek Yogurt
3 Roma Tomatos

This one cannot get any more simple. Cut all your ingredients up to the same size or shape the best you can, add your lemon, dill, and yogurt – mix. I let mine sit overnight but it’s delicious immediately as well. I contemplated cutting everything up veeeery tiny and making a dip for some pita chips? I am not sure. Let me know what you think!

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Apothic Pasta

If anyone ever tells you that you cannot boil spaghetti in a whole bottle of red wine kick them out of your life…..or send them here so I get traffic….maybe that is the better idea.

Regardless, haters to the left.

We are doing this.

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Random fact about me: I love beets.
What the Hell does that have to do with pasta? Well, there was an article in a local food magazine I read where someone had made pasta with beets! Delicious. I know most of you are thinking that is disgusting, but not I. Beets are also a beautiful rich color which of course made the pasta a vibrant red. I was not about to make homemade pasta. I have been there done that, and though the end result is amazing and delicious Whole Foods sells fresh made pasta for 6.99 and in turn I get to keep 90% of my sanity. Note: I did not use fresh pasta for this recipe…sue me.

Long story short if I wanted red pasta without incorporating beets the solution was simple:wine. Wine is always the solution.

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What you will need:
Your favorite red wine – as seen above I used Apothic Red – it’s a tasty Cali blend
Garlic
Butter
Olive Oil
Red Pepper Chili Flakes
Mushrooms
Grated Parmesan

Pour yourself a glass of wine and then DUMP the entire remaining bottle into a pot. Do not add water. High heat. Anxiously pace kitchen waiting for wine to boil. Add the spaghetti once the wine is at a rolling boil, and let it cook roughly 10 minutes….I’m not sure on exact times because I tasted pieces every few minutes as you should as well because not everyone’s pasta, stoves, wine are the same.

Now, while the pasta was cooking I was successfully multitasking. Butter, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Cook those together to make a beautiful concoction for your pasta to bathe in.

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By the time the pasta is done there will not be a lot of wine left in the pot. You have maybe a glass left over. DO NOT DRINK IT. I did it for you, and it is disgusting.

Add the pasta into your pan with the mushrooms, toss, add cheese, more cheese, and EAT!

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Those two forks are not because I planned to share.

Honest feedback: This was absolutely incredible, it is easy, and super impressive. Invite people over and boil wine in your kitchen to cook them a meal. Instant impressiveness. I believe the mushrooms are necessary to add an earthy and meaty addition to the wine flavors. The pasta is competitive all on its own and with only butter and garlic I feel it would then be overwhelming for most…not me, but most. The pasta absorbs 90% of the wine so pick a good one because you will most definitely be tasting it. I am not one to say no to the 2 buck chuck but in this scenario you may want to spend the $8 for Apothic.

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Nowhere Near Traditional – Gyro

Leave it to me to completely break tradition on a very traditional food.

I did not roast the chicken rotisserie style and I did not use Pita Bread to sandwich all the deliciousness together in the end. Rather, I barbecued the chicken and used Naan Bread as the holding vessel. In fact the only reason I call it a Gyro at all is because of the traditional sauce, but hey there is tomato, red onion, feta, and amazingness in here which as I remember any time I have eaten gyros in the past all of those were included.

Recipe for both the Gyro and Taziki Sauce below.

Let’s start with the chicken marinade since I let the chicken thighs bathe in it for about 8 hours. Now, there is raw chicken below….do not be weird about it, please.

I used everything leftover in my fridge from the last few days for the marinade. Such a secret recipe, right?

I had:
Dill
Red Onion
Lemon
Jalapeno
Garlic
Olive Oil
S&P
Garlic Powder
Chili Flakes

Mix all of these together FIRST, then add in your chicken thighs, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leave them alone for roughly 6-8 hours, and WASH YOUR HANDS cause we are moving on to the next thing!

Taziki Sauce!

Now, I made this traditional because it just has to be due to its deliciousness.

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Ingredients:
Dill
Garlic
Fresh Lemon
Cucumber
Greek Yogurt
S&P

Now, there a lot of recipes for Taziki sauce and the most common variation is always the cucumber. Do you let the fluid drain from the cucumber? Do you let excess fluid strain from the final sauce? I honestly do not know and I did not care too much. I chopped all my ingredients, mixed them with the yogurt, and waited about 2 hours to see how it did. The sauce was fine! Not watery at all not runny or gross. Perfect consistency for my personal liking. I also ate the sauce with pita chips the next day and same thing, not runny, not watery.

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Once you have your chicken marinading and the sauce made the rest of the day is just a torturous waiting game.

I BBQ’d the chicken, grilled the naan til it was warm, and threw all my fresh veggies in the warm deliciousness and ate it far too quickly. You can absolutely throw any veggies in this like bell pepper, lettuce, green onions (I love onions), spinach, and whatever else! Red onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese is what I had on hand and so in they went.

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Final Results!!!

Whiskey in the Summer

Wine.
Whiskey.
Beer.

Or Mikey’s Mai Tais.

These are about the only forms of alcohol you will ever see me drinking. Unless, it is someone’s birthday party and then fish bowls are mandatory. Also, margaritas but Tequila makes me pay for the laughs it provides in the most awful ways.

I have been meaning to make a whiskey cocktail for a loooooong time, but it is challenging for me because I am a whiskey sipper. Whiskey is my dirty little secret. I do not drink it often, but let me tell you if writer’s block sets in Whiskey comes along and knocks it the hell out of town for me. And, so as just I keep it under my belt for when needed. Whiskey is my confidence, and everyone needs confidence in the Summer to brave the deadly heat.

Make this. Drink this. Do not blame me when you punch someone for eating the last hot dog at the BBQ.

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Ingredients:
6 Fresh Lemons
1 small carton Fresh Blackberries
Simple Syrup (I have a blog post for this on Champagne Margaritas)
Jack Daniels – Honey (8oz)

I am a foodie so naturally I made my own lemonade which I of course strongly recommend. Also, if you end up using Honey Jack which I also insist you do….I have a very strong feeling if store bought lemonade was used this would come out FAR too sweet.
Just trust me.

First I blended the blackberries and then strained all the seeds, seeds are good in smoothies but not in cocktails over ice.

You will most likely end up slightly depressed as I was once straining the seeds because the amount of blackberry juice you will be left with is just sad. Yet, it does the trick.

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I do not have any pictures of me squeezing lemons, sorry. But, I did really squeeze all of those F’ers with my little arthritic hands so you can too!

I would imagine you can predict the next step is to mix everything together: simple syrup, blackberry and lemon juice —– whiskey.

All the ingredients including the whiskey filled a quart sized mason jar and would be equivalent to about 4 cocktails. Go have fun in the sun with these or whatever! I am staying the rest of the day inside, writing, and eventually wanting to beat Kyle in Mario Kart…….because I am awesome at that game.

Black Bean & Mushroom Veggie Burgers

These babies definitely intimidated me, and I have many lessons to learn for the next time around and yet I am still going to publish this because they were delicious.

I have wanted to make my own veggie burgers for quite some time but never actually did because I was severely insecure about it. I honestly mess up burgers EVERY time I make them(ironic that I am going to attempt to make turkey burgers this upcoming weekend). I either make the burgers too dry and I have to drench the end result in mayo just to prevent choking to death OR I make them so moist I cry as I watch the burgers fall through the BBQ grate……EVERY TIME one of these scenarios happens. Inevitable.

You can imagine my anxiety when placing the task of homemade veggie burgers on myself. Narcissist.

I am going to let you know the improvements I would make for next time. I absolutely would not call these a fail…or even close to one and I would never post it if they were. I would bury them in the garden outside and deny the entire event ever took place.

Here goes nothing!!!

Ingredients
1 Can of Black Refried Beans (need 2 cups)
10-15 Mini Portobella Mushrooms (need 2 cups)
Chopped Cauliflower (about a cup)
1 Shallot
2 cloves of Garlic
1/4 Jalapeno
1 Cup Shredded Parmesan
3 Eggs
1 1/2 Cup Panko
S&P
2 Tablespoons BBQ Sauce

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Now, my suggestions. For starters I would not use refried beans again. Bear with me and all vegetarians/vegans/anyone that has made homemade veggie burgers before you may laugh at me. I honestly thought it would work! And, it wasn’t bad but I know it is what contributed to the burgers being “too mushy” in the end. My thought process was as follows: Hmmmm I need to get black beans, cook them for a while, and then mash about half of them…..well for once in my life I had no black beans in the pantry but I did have black refried beans….same thing right? They are cooked, partially smashed and that was the exact game plan anyways. I think this is really the only thing that could be improved in this recipe is to try the real….fresh black beans being half smashed, because everything else was truly wonderful, and the beans were amazing, just the burgers definitely 100% had a “refried bean” smooth and soft texture in the end. Not bad, but not the ultimate end game for a burger that wants to mimic meat.

NEXT!

Mix all this up in a bowl!!

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Form some patties out of your mixture.

I chose to fry these in olive oil and butter because I knew the minute I felt them they were too soft, and I almost cried. Really. Almost. I stuck them in the freezer to firm up before frying, browned on both sides, and waited til they were hot all the way through because remember these are not vegan they do have egg and cheese. These did not fall apart while cooking which that alone was a major accomplishment. They did however smoosh down upon slapping them between buns and eating. Like stated before, they were not too mushy, too soft, or gross, but I know not using refried beans again would be a major improvement.

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Does that little fleck of food in the corner on the plate bug you? It bugs me so bad! But this was the best picture!

I love when I learn something from the process, because in the end that is all that really matters. Always challenge yourself and learn even in cooking.

Guac Therapy

I am going to be completely honest, and just come out and say it: I do not like guacamole.

 

Unless Mikaela makes it.

Seriously, I never order it at a restaurant, I never make it myself, and if something I happen to be eating has it on there I will scrape it to the side and watch it brown. No thank you, sir.

Guacamole is HIGHLY personal preference so it is an odd thing to choose for a blog posting since “everyone” knows how to make guac, but they don’t. In fact, just this month my work’s newsletter provided a recipe that called for using those salt filled packets you buy at the store…..seriously can you be any more idiotic? You still have to buy ALL the ingredients, because there is no avocadoes or onions hidden in that little packet honey, and then spend $2.59 on a packet of salt…..and what preservatives? And yet, they had me write an article on Life Insurance…..I could have owned that food article.

Bitter much, Krystal?

If you are not educated on whom Mikaela is by now then I cannot help you – she has been mentioned in numerous posting before this, and if you came here from Insta or Facebook you should be well aware.

You can stalk us both below:

Mikaela Immenschuh Photography

Krystal Renee

Insta

Mikaela is my first Guest Feature Recipe!

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Even though we did not write anything down, and she cooks the same way I do…..as she goes….tastes….and then adds whatever the heck may be needed, and so though we are excellent cooks we are awful recipe-rs?

Guacamole days at my house consist of the following:
We both end up looking like we just got out of bed – excellent outfit selections
We stand in my kitchen barefoot and I watch as Mikaela makes me guac
Mikaela rifles through my fridge to find beverages and supplies
I am a cilantro hater so sadly….you can add your own to her recipe
Finally, guac with chips ends up being similar to dinner with wine because it turns into therapy provided by guacamole – we talk, vent, laugh, make fun of Kyle, yell at my dogs, and then eat til the entire bowl is gone and reside on my couch for the hours following.

Maybe, the secret to this guacamole is the free therapy that comes with it, but I honestly just think Mikaela is an avocado whisperer. The recipe changes every time based on her mood, but it always excellent and it is not OVER salted like SO MANY PEOPLE DO TO AVOCADOS …. Makes me want to DIE. Seriously, taste your food THEN SALT AND taste AGAIN, people.

This version was just a classic guac minus the cilantro because yours truly is a hater.

Recipe
1 Raw Garlic Clove – Chopped
3 Beautiful Avocados
¼ Red Onion
½ Jalapeno
8 Cherry Tomatoes
Lime Juice (taste for your preference)
Salt (seriously…..try a little……taste…..try again – this really is the secret)
Pepper
Chili Flakes (we like it spicy)

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Mash all of this together for an end result of your choosing – we tend to like it chunky and not smooth so ours is roughly mashed and then immediately eaten. Also, if you can wait which we never can this would be even better in the fridge for like 15-20 minutes, but let’s be honest no one is going to wait. You’re doomed to stand there and eat the whole bowl after that first chip.

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Guac is a wonderful vessel and Mikaela has put black beans in it before, roasted corn, cilantro of course, and homemade chili flake oil. Amazing. This girl knows the world of avocadoes. She has crazy and adventurous ideas so I am very excited to have her cook more things for me to eat, write, and post about. Maybe, next time we can actually write something down, or since Mik is the videographer/photographer we should really just film ourselves to remember.

Honor the Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Have you ever had one of those moments where you see or hear something, and the moment just seems to speak more to you than everyone else around? I’m fairly confident people have these experiences. I do all the time. Certain words, phrases, writing, and even images occasionally just vibrate to a different tone inside this brain of mine. The picture above appeared on my Instagram the other day and I found myself going back to it throughout the day. The original poster had no caption or paragraph written to the picture…..just the image, and it just seemed to stay a little longer with me.

I believe the reason behind this image staying with me is because I have been really trying to enjoy the in-betweens in my life right now.

Being a classic INTJ personality (and yes, I have taken the real Meyer Briggs test….that cost a lot of money) I feel most comfortable with lists, plans, and then I feel MOST relaxed when those lists grow to be about the size of a small freeway. When I am overwhelmed with tasks I am calm. It is a rather disgusting habit of mine to overload myself to the point of exhaustion. I always want to do better, I always need to be organizing something, doing something, achieving and aiming for something. The things that give me anxiety are the very opposite for most people. When the water is still I panic. When life is quiet I scream. I grew up in utter dysfunction and chaos and now that I am adult I crave the intensity of always going. I am scared of the unknown. I am a planner.

These last few weeks though have been different for me. Other than small grocery lists or little reminders for myself in my planner I have made no lists the ones I have became nowhere near the size of a highway….not even a small dirt road. My plans have been random and sporadic, and I have lost connections with people that was a long time coming and started new meaningful ones. Life seems to be much more manageable and enjoyable when you are not constantly spreading yourself too thin. Life is a bit brighter and welcoming when you give your body the things it needs like enough water, sleep, and you set some goals to the side. I’m not pushing myself and that alone is a very hard task for me to accomplish because even as I write this I feel the need to make a list of the things I should be doing instead of being lazy. My brain literally thinks I am being lazy if I am not torturing it with the most unrealistic list of accomplishments for myself.

I think I am just living.

I always have these little check points in my brain and I don’t think I will ever be able to erase them….they are not necessarily unhealthy but I am also learning that the traditional path is not the path for everyone. I don’t need 3 degrees to feel successful, I don’t need a house or a baby to feel like a grown up, I don’t need 100,000 dollars in the bank to feel financial stable. That is the normal for most people, that is what is pushed on us from the moment we are born, because that is just what we do as adults, but I am accepting and moving on with the fact that life that I just wrote up there…..that life is not for me, and that is OKAY.

I will be okay.

So, right now I am just trying to enjoy the warmth of the in-between. I am not sure what I will do next. I am not sure what crazy goal I will set for myself next year….this easy no list lifestyle will not cut it forever, but in this moment I am happy. I am happy writing my blog, working 10 hours a day and then leaving it all at the door, reading new books, making new friends, going new places, spending time with family, and just living in my little house with my little family.

I find that when you do not think you are going anywhere is when you grow the most.

Life exists outside of unrealistic goals, stress, anxiety, and expectations. I have seen the life outside of it, and I am currently honoring it.